Friday, September 3, 2010

Canticle for Leibowitz -- A Review

Acquaintances of mine will recall that I was highly impressed with the classic science fiction novel A Canticle for Leibowitz. My Dad handed it to me as a recommendation, so I decided to give it a shot, and I am not disappointed that I did. There were many aspects of it that I appreciated. First, it was well written. The style was eminently enjoyable to read, and had enough high-level vocabulary words and intellectual concepts to keep me intrigued. Second, the conversations and the monkish atmosphere of the book was an interesting twist for a nominally Sci-Fi novel. And third, it contained several valuable messages that could shed some prophetic light.
The book consists of three parts, the first takes place 600 years after Civilization has destroyed itself via science, where brother Francis, a monk of an isolated abbey that is trying to recover the lost knowledge of advance civilization through textual criticism, stumbles across some remnants of the great Saint Leibowitz. This discovery, if valid, would have grand implications for the canonization of the Saint.
The second part, which takes place some 700 years after, centers around the confrontation between the abbey and one of the most brilliant secular thinkers, who is also attempting to salvage the knowledge that is still lost from 1300 years earlier. This part is my favorite out of the book, as I found the dialogue and plot compelling.
The third part, roughly 2000 years after the previous civilization's self destruction, is where the technology and knowledge base has returned to its historic levels, and thus threatening society in a similar manner. The third parts' primary concern is the abbey's conflict not with a secular scholar, but instead with the morality of the secular world, particularly its custom of euthanasia.
When bombs have been set off resulting in the death and injury of millions, the abbey becomes a place where the medical authorities use to take in the injured people. And because of the excruciating pain that the victims are going through, the medical team seeks to solve this through euthanasia. This is emphatically prohibited by the head monk on moral grounds, and a conflict subsequently followed.
Anyhow, out of the many books I have read this year, this one would certainly be on or near the top on my recommendation list.

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